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Surviving and Thriving in a Creative Desert

Things I have tried to do to get creative again

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I have been struggling with artist’s block this summer. During this journey, I’ve tried various things to break out of it, such as: copying art demonstrations from art technique books, re-touching/re-working old paintings, and working in a prompt driven sketchbook. Unfortunately, the later project hasn’t been working out so great lately. I’ve been procrastinating on doing the daily prompts, and have felt uncertain as to which mediums to work in for the sketchbook pages, should it be watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, gouache or something else that I use? I have been unhappy with the colored pencils because they take so long to build up color and tone and I want to get some momentum and finish the nature section so I can keep moving along. It’s also difficult to correct mistakes with this medium, and I am finding that a lot of my prompts are not living up to my expectations. All of which keeps me stuck in neutral, and not making new work consistently.

Some insights I have gained about my artist’s block

Maybe it’s also the heat of the summer, which seems extraordinarily hot, even for Maryland. Or perhaps it’s the dislocation I feel in adjusting to a new house, guilt (genuine or otherwise, about abandoning household chores to make time for art), or something else entirely. Whatever the cause, I want to come up with some solutions so I can move forward and make more art, and hopefully at least some of the pieces will turn out the way I envision or will be at least good enough to post on social media. This year there’s been a mix of both good paintings and some not so good paintings. The paintings I’m not happy with might get thrown out, or sanded and re-worked, depending on the state of the canvases. I feel dry and uninspired, and I feel I have reached the limit of my skill set in art. In fact, I feel I need more fuel for my creativity and knowledge base.

Tips for breaking through a creative block

While I am pondering these thoughts, I’d like to share some tips I picked up from an article, “How to Survive a Creative Slump,” by Our Daily Craft, on http://www.ourdailycraft.com/2017/02/21/survive-creative-slump, by Sarah White, February 21, 2017. A few suggestions that the author offers include: 1.) starting with a small creative project, 2.) working quickly, 3.) reading a book you enjoy, and 4.) organizing or cleaning something in your home.  For instance, the author suggested a few small projects to help jumpstart your creativity such as 1.) “sewing a cloth napkin,” 2.) “knitting a headband,” 3.) Paint on a 4 x 4-inch surface, or “writing a haiku.” (Source: ibid)  Since I am not particularly good at crafts or anything DIY, which I learned after re-finishing some furniture and all of my kitchen cabinets in my new home, I have settled on painting a 4 x 4-inch canvas of Canada Geese. I re-worked this miniature canvas in oil paints about a week ago, and I am fairly happy with the result. Another suggestion that the author makes is to re-visit old projects that you had left unfinished. (Source: ibid)  I certainly have a pile of unfinished works-such as unfinished drawings, pastels, and pages in my sketchbook where things just didn’t come together. Perhaps it would be a good problem-solving exercise to utilize my creativity.

In addition, the author also discussed making something quickly-which I’m not sure I would do

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This quote was obtained from the internet via a Google search, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Canada Goose trio,flat
Canada Geese Trio, oil on canvas, 4 x 4 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.
Koi fish painting, flat
Koi Fish Group, acrylic on canvas, 5 x 7 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt. This is the first stage of this painting.
Koi group, flat
Koi Fish Group, acrylic on canvas, 5 x 7 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt. And this is the completed acrylic painting! 
Koi fish portrait, flat
Koi Fish portrait, acrylic, 4 x 6 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt. Pictured is stage 1 of this acrylic painting.
works in progress, flat
Here are some small value paintings of water lilies and a blank canvas. I’m not sure what the subject might be for this one yet.
small value paintings, flat
Close up of the water lily paintings in progress.
nature sketches 1, flat
Pictured is stage 1 of my dandelion sketches in colored pencil and pastel. I wasn’t happy with how these turned out, so I re-worked them in two subsequent stages, pictured here. These drawings are from my Julia Orkin-Lewis Sketchbook, Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way. 
Nature sketches, 2, flat
My first step to re-work these paintings was to cover up the areas I didn’t like with gesso and let it dry so I could re-paint with acrylic. I learned that colored pencil is really hard to get rid of if you make a mistake.
dandelions sketchbook flat
And my final two steps were to add another layer of gesso after the first layer had dried. Afterward, I re-painted the offending areas with Liquitex acrylic paint. However, I’m still not sure if I am happy with these sketches, but I don’t want to get stuck on them either. They are, after all, supposed to serve as ideas for completed future paintings.

since most of the problems I have had with my art have been poor planning. Another problem which leads to unsatisfactory art for me is not spending enough time checking the accuracy of the drawing, as unfortunately happened with my latest portrait of Lincoln, which I decided to re-work and re-draw with oil paints. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out that well. Maybe if I were an abstract painter I could get away with a more intuitive approach to painting, than a more structured one with specific steps, but I am not. Since I am a more traditional painter, I am sticking with what works for me, which is starting with a drawing, adding three values in pencil to the sketch, and then making a colored sketch to base the final painting upon. Unfortunately, the more I tried to fix the drawing, the worse it got. In the end, I finally decided to abandon it, and start with a new sketch on a totally different substrate on a larger scale. It hasn’t become a painting yet, but I think I identified some drawing errors in the painting, by making a new sketch.

However, one thing I do want to try is to read a novel, article, or poem, to try and get some new ideas flowing. Some of my best works have been inspired by the poetry of Dickinson and Frost. Maybe reading literature will also help me to become a better writer and get me out o this writer’s block I seem to be assailed with lately. How about you? Do you have any suggestions for breaking out of a creative rut? I’d love to hear! Just post in the comments section of this blog. Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

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Sold! Two original oil paintings

Hello friends, family, and fans,

I’m so excited to announce that I sold two original oil paintings, Gerbera Daisy and Jack Daniels via my Etsy website, https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt, with a little help from a Facebook post I made last night. It is a welcome relief after several months of no sales from original pieces. Now I need to start adding new work to make up for the missing spaces.

I’d love to hear from you about what subject matter I should include. What’s your favoritesmall gerbera paintingJack Daniels subject? Animals, still life, landscape or portraits?

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Artists: What Kind of Artist are You?

Artists: What kind of Artist Are You-Amateur, Hobbyist or Professional?

Why I decided to Write about Artist Types

It’s been awhile since I last posted on this blog, and I have debated off and on within myself, whether to continue blogging about the series I started in May called, and famous failures. However, at the end of the day, I decided that I would switch gears and write about a more arts-based topic. Instead, I decided to examine the topic of different artist types and the pros and cons of each type. It’s my belief that there is no superior type of artist, and that it is all about what type works best for you. However, I do think that it takes a very unique person to be able to combine the roles of both artist and entrepreneur.

In my opinion, such individuals must be extremely dedicated to making art their life’s work, no matter what it takes, or how much time they have to invest in learning their craft and other business skills to make a profit. On the contrary, not every artist has that sort of drive or wants their art to be consumed by the public as a commodity. Perhaps for some, art is an outlet for their feelings and experiences and they would rather keep that private, which is perfectly fine. Meanwhile, there are other artists who find themselves somewhere in the middle between hobbyist and amateur artist.  These artists, sometimes called, “double jobbers,” want to take their art to a more professional level, but also work a day job, such as the British artist described in the article, “The Double Jobbers, Making a Living into eh Arts, by Kathy B. Sweeney, posted on The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2012/jul/29/living-working-in-the-arts. Consequently, they are not pressured to make a living from their art. On the other hand, there are artists who cannot imagine doing anything else with their lives and spend almost all of their time marketing and making their artwork. The three types of artists which I will discuss in this blog post are a hobbyist, amateur, and professional artists, along with the pros and cons of each type.

Why is it important to know what type of artist you are?

I picked this topic because I have been wrestling with the question about what category I fall into as an artist: Amateur, Hobbyist or Professional? In my opinion, it’s important to know which category of artist that you fall into because there are specific actions that you need to take if you want to go beyond making artwork for pleasure and start making it with a business mindset. According to author, Alyson Stanfield, who wrote the art business book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio, it is not enough just to make art, you need to learn about how to market and sell your art, as well as to sharpening your artistic skills and creating a specific body of work that showcases your unique style as n artist. (Sources: Artwork Archive, “Alyson Stanfield Shares Her 10 Best Marketing Tips,” https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/alyson-stanfield-shares-her-10-best-art-marketing-tips, accessed on 06/14/18, and Alyson Stanfield, I’d Rather Be in the Studio!, preface, pg. 1, 2008, Pentas Press, Golden. Colorado, and Aletta de Wal, “Hobbyist, Amateur or Professional Artist: Which Are You?” http://emptyeasel.com/2011/02/01/hobbyist-amateur-or-professional-artist-which-are-you accessed on June 6, 2018. )

My Journey as an Emerging Artist

After my father died in 2011, I realized that I wanted to make the most of the time I had left. I wanted to live without regrets about not pursuing art to the highest extent possible. For as long as I can remember, it has been my dream to be an artist.  In fact, my grandmother reported in her scrapbook that I began drawing at the age of 3. When I first started making art with the intention of selling it, back in 2011, my catalyst for making art was that I needed an avenue to express my grief.

Deciding what level of involvement in art I want to have in my life has modified my choices and informed my decisions about my career, how I spend my time, and how I spend my money. I’ve gone from being a wide-eyed dreamer of a someday art career, as an art student, who lived amongst the bubble of the art community, to living life after college with all its startling reality. This world I now live in includes: bills, student loan debt, working as much as I can on my art while balancing a night job, experiencing frequent rejections for art shows, and feeling unrelenting and crushing self-doubt about my abilities as an artist.  I feel I have been drifting without many purposes in my quest to be a professional artist, and it’s making me wonder whether this is the life I really want.

Making the Jump from Hobbyist Artist to Amateur Artist

In more recent years, I have really stepped up my activity to bring my art to a more professional level, such as: creating profit and loss sheets in Excel, designing an art catalog of inventory, launching an artist website, blogging about art, participating in more frequent art shows, hosting studio sale events at my home, producing custom art, and starting commerce shops on Etsy and Red Bubble, etc. However, all of this activity has been challenging and sometimes disappointing. It seems to me that no matter how hard I try, I am still struggling to sell my art consistently. I have also made efforts to connect with people on a personal level through writing blog posts, and producing artist newsletters.

However, I am still not making a profit and instead, I find myself falling into debt to pay for framing, art supplies, and marketing expenses. Even more importantly, I feel I have lost the joy of making art in the midst of all this business related activity. Consequently, I’ve had severe doubts about whether I want to be a professional artist, because of the amount of work, time, emotion, skill, and unflagging confidence a professional artist must have to survive. I wonder, are I any other artists are struggling with this situation? And I’m also asking myself, do I really want to be a professional artist, or not? If not, then what type of artist do I want to be?

 

What are some Specific Types of Artists?

To investigate and to define the different types of artist that anyone can be, I read an article entitled, “Hobbyist, Amateur, or Professional Artist-Which are you?” written by Aletta de Wall on the website, Empty Easel, at http://emptyeasel.com/2011/02/01hobbyist-amateur-or-professional-artist-which-are-you. The author, De Wall, states that there are three categories of artists and they are: Hobbyist, Amateur, and Professional and that each type is distinctly different. (Source: ibid)

The Hobby Artist

For example, hobby artists are not trying to make a living from their art, and they may only make art when the creative bug bites. (Source: ibid) In addition, hobby artists may study for many years and hone their craft by taking classes and workshops, but they may not ever receive the recognition that their work deserves because they are not taking actions which would promote their art effectively, such as having a business or marketing plan. (Source: ibid) On the other hand, an advantage of being a hobby artist is that there is no pressure on them to cater to a specific audience or make a profit, so they are free to experiment with a variety of media and subject matter and styles and techniques. They may also have more time to make art because there is no imperative to make a profit and engage in business-related activities such as marketing, bookkeeping, or sales.

The Amateur Artist

Another category of artist types is the amateur artist. This type of artist has started to play with the idea of making their art into a profession. (Source: ibid) Perhaps they have started to think that they need to start selling their art to help foot the bill for their art supplies, and to start being able to deduct their art expenses from taxes. (Source: ibid) An important distinction between hobby artists and amateurs is that amateurs are willing to give up their personal time in order to learn how to sell their art and creating new works. (Source: ibid) However, they may be uncertain about how to turn their passion into a viable business. (Source: ibid)

The Professional Artist

Finally, the last category of artists that this article discussed is professional artists. This type of artist is distinguished from the other two types of hobby artist and amateur artist because they consider art to be their profession. (Source: ibid, and Drew Kimble, “9 Warning Signs of an Amateur Artist,” https://skinnyartist.com/9-warning-signs-of-an-amateur-artist, accessed on June 7, 2018. )

These types of artists want to make a profit from their art, build a following, and continue to build their business skills at the same time. They have an intense level of dedication to their art and are willing to sacrifice time, money, sleep and do whatever it takes to make a profit. (Source: ibid, and Drew Kimble) They might work another day job to help support their business or eventually quit their day job when they are able so that they can devote more time to making art and learning how to sell it. Other activities that they engage in are: making studio time a daily habit, applying for grants, writing artist newsletters,  submitting their artwork for review at galleries and art fairs, write business plans, extend their knowledge of effective business practices by attending art business workshops, etc. (Source: ibid, and Hayley Roberts, “Twelve Things No One Ever Tells You About Being An Artist,” The Huffington Post, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/hayleyroberst/twleve-things-no-one-tell.html. accessed on June 7, 2018.) They also promote their artwork online and offline through social media, their artist website, and in real life artist events, such as art gallery openings, art festivals, etc.  (Source: ibid)Some may also make a living by teaching their craft to others. (Source: Aletta De Wal, “Hobbyist, Amateur, or Professional Artist-Which are you?”, and Hayley Roberts, “Twelve Things No One Ever Tells You About Being An Artist,” ) .

These artists may receive more recognition for their artwork, but they may also experience more criticism and rejection than the two other types because they are more aggressively pursuing art gallery representation, etc. In addition, they may have less time for making artwork because they have to balance making art with business-related duties. Furthermore, they may struggle to sell their art or make consistent income and they may face stiff competition from other artists because it is such a saturated field.  It is a long road for these artists towards building a following and making a success from their art, but they are dedicated for the long haul. (Source: Drew Kimble, “9 Warning Signs of an Amateur Artist,” https://skinnyartist.com/9-warning-signs-of-an-amateur-artist, accessed on June 7, 2018. )

What about You? What Type of Artist are you?

So what about you, reader? What type of artist are you? I would love to hear about your dreams and hopes with regards to making art. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read this. Next week, I will be talking about this topic of artist types in more detail, with a slight twist. The twist will be a more in-depth look at what it really means to be a professional artist and why it has been traditionally so difficult to be successful in this field.

The photos below are a collection of art demonstration paintings that I created to help re-teach myself how to draw in pastels and to prepare for the pastel workshop I taught on June 16, 2018, at the Colorful Canvas art supply store. Also included are photos of my art students at work and the pastel drawings they created at the class. Please note, the pastel drawings pictured here are based on the art demonstrations found in the book, The Art of Pastel, published by Walter Foster, in 2010. These pastel drawings are not my original works and are not intended for sale. The works were made simply to practice pastel drawing techniques and help my students to have a demonstration format to follow. In addition, the pastel drawings were originally created by the artists, William Scheider and Marla Baggetta, and no copyright violation is intended.

pastel still life with onions and carafe1
Jug with onions, pastel on paper, after William Schneider, 2018.
Haybale pastel landscape, flat-1
Hay bales Landscape, pastel on paper, after William Schneider, 2018.
Colorful canvas 1, flat_edited-2
Photo of Art Students at Work, June 16, 2007, at the Colorful Canvas Art Supply Store.
Colorful Canvas students, flat_edited-1
These are photos of students at the Colorful Canvas in Frederick, MD on June 16, 2018. This was taken during a pastel workshop I taught which focused on drawing a fruit still life in pastels.
Carlton's fuit still life, flat-2
Here is some more student Artwork which was completed at my pastel workshop.
Denise's still life, flat-2
Another image of a student’s pastel drawing.
Jean's fruit still life, flat
A final image of my mother’s artwork, who was also one of my students and a dedicated support of my art.
demonstration pastel painting, flat
Here is the art demonstration I created for the pastel workshop. I re-created this pastel drawing during the class to teach the students how to draw a fruit still life from scratch. To guide the students, I started by drawing with the basic shapes, circle, triangle, and oval. Note: This pastel was originally created by artist,  Marla Baggetta in the book, The Art of Pastel, published by Walter Foster in 2018. 
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I’m taking a break from blogging

Hi Friends, Family, and Followers,

I am taking a break from blogging on my Art of Schmidt site until life calms down a little. I’ve been juggling an art show deadline that’s looming and the art hasn’t been coming

Stopping by the Woods, one point
Stopping by the Woods, Mixed Media, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.

together, and some health issues. I hope to get back to blogging more frequently after the art show opening, On and Off the Wall at the Artists Gallery in Frederick, MD. I will be joined by many local artists who work in a variety of media. All art will be for sale via silent auction and proceeds will help raise funds for the continuation of the gallery, which is operated exclusively by artists. For now, here are some progress photos of my box entry, Stopping by the Woods. Here is a link to the art show if you want to know more about it:Box Side 2_edited-1Box Side 3_edited-1, finalBox Side 4_edited-1 http://www.theartistsgalleryfrederick.com/march-2018-box-show.

In my next post, I hope to show you the completed project, but for now, I am still figuring out how to bring it to a successful conclusion. I was not happy with how the sides of the box turned out, so I  am re-doing them from scratch in Photoshop. Next week, I hope to transfer these images to the box and paint the panels in Acrylic. Here are the Photoshop files in progress that will be displayed on the other sides of the box. The box is based on the poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost. I love this poem because it is so mysterious. Is he talking about death, life, or the push and pull between responsibilities and dreaming, when he stops to admire the snowy woods, but then decides that he has other things to get back to at the end of the poem when he says he has “miles to go before I sleep”. I think the poem can be open to many interpretations and that’s what makes it interesting. Thanks for stopping by!

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Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993): An Artist I Admire

 

This week I have really been struggling to come up with a new topic for this blog. At first, I thought I might write about time management strategies and how I have been implementing my Ideal Week schedule template I mentioned last week. However, the trouble with that topic is that I still haven’t taken the time to write it out, but I did download a copy of the Ideal Week schedule template pdf from Michael Hyatt’s website, and so it did get me started thinking about what I have been spending my time doing other than painting, and the reasons why I have been putting it off… Then I thought I might write about the top ten contemporary living artists in an article by Artsy.net, but as I read about what these artists represented in their work, it didn’t seem to fit the type of painting I do, so I decided not to do that.

After some reflection,  I am realizing that one of the reasons I have been putting off painting has been that I have not had any inspiration about what to paint, despite the vague idea that I might start up my poetry series again. But somehow I haven’t been making much progress there. Instead, I’ve been working on other things for my art business that needed to get done, and which I have been procrastinating on, due to a large number of art shows. One of these tasks was to get up to date with my profit and loss sheet. Yesterday, I researched different blog topics that I thought might get me motivated to paint again, and I read my blog topics list. Amongst the topics I have listed, was one that stood out for me. That topic was to write about artists that you admire and why you like that particular artist. Immediately the name Richard Diebenkorn came to mind.

Perhaps I thought of him because it reminded me of a conversation I had with an old friend about artists, and she mentioned that her stepmother had introduced her to the art of Richard Diebenkorn. On the other hand, maybe  I was reminded of a documentary about Richard Diebenkorn I had watched on YouTube several months ago which featured a presentation by his daughter in which she described his works and shared some interesting facts about his life, such as how his home in California influenced his art. Or perhaps I thought of Diebenkorn’s work because it reminds me of the kind of subject matter I used to draw and paint when I was an art student at McDaniel College, which was figures in interior spaces, with an emphasis on color. For whatever the reason, he came to my mind and so I started researching facts about his life and trying to learn all I could about his artwork.

From the article, Diebenkorn’s First Steps, on artsy.net, I learned that he was introduced to art at an early age by his father, Richard Diebenkorn, Sr. who entertained him “with pieces of cardboard placed between the folds of crisply pressed shirts from the dry cleaner.” (“ Diebenkorn’s First Steps”).  As a young child, Diebenkorn drew trains and locomotives on the “smooth, white surface of the paper.” (Ibid).  And, he continued to pursue art for many years after that, despite a lack of support from his father, who wanted him to pursue a more practical career path in law or medicine, during his time as a student at Stanford University, where he attended undergraduate classes in 1940. (“Richard Diebenkorn: Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works”). Instead, he decided to study art and art history, and he successfully combined influences from many art styles such as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field Painting and “belle peinture” or the beautiful painting.” (Ibid).

He was able to seamlessly shift from abstraction to figuration in his long career as an artist, painting figures in interior spaces, and abstracted landscapes and cityscapes of his home in California. (Ibid) But whatever the subject, he continued to incorporate bright color and shape, which gives his paintings an unmistakable brand as a Diebenkorn, not to be confused with any other artist. According to Amy Crawford,  Diebenkorn was highly influenced by the artwork of Henri Matisse, another fine colorist. (The Lasting Influence Matisse Had on Richard Diebenkorn’s Artwork, Amy Crawford, March 2017, Smithsonian Magazine, www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/lasting-influence-matisse-richard-diebenkorn-artwork.  In addition to reading up on Richard Diebenkorn and his art, I gave myself the assignment to copy two of his paintings which describe his various subject matter of figures in interior spaces and abstracted landscapes. I had a lot of fun with drawing the shapes and mixing the colors. The two paintings I copied this week are Woman on a Porch, Richard Diebenkorn, 1958, oil on canvas and Cityscape 1, (Landscape No. 1), 1963, Richard Diebenkorn, oil on canvas. The one difference in approach to my paintings and Diebenkorn’s are that my version was painted in acrylic paintings rather than oils. I also include some of my original self-portraits in oils, because I think they show the connection in subject matter and color between my works and Diebenkorn’s paintings, although my approach is more restrained and traditional with subtle gradations of tone and color. Copying these paintings by Diebenkorn showed me just how much I enjoy painting the figure and using bold color. Since completing the 100 Faces in 100 Days drawing Challenge on Instagram, I have really missed working in color.  Thanks for stopping by!

 

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Paintings of the Week: Catoctin Mountain State Park Landscapes

Have you ever heard the saying, that writers should write about what they know? I am taking that axiom and applying it to the artwork that I create. This week’s offering features two acrylic mini-canvases of two scenes from a nearby park called Catoctin State Park in Thurmont, MD, just minutes away from my apartment. I have lived in the Thurmont/Sabillasville area in Maryland for about 10 years and have visited the Catoctin State Park many times with my husband, family, and friends.

About 4 years ago, I spent a day photographing different views of this park on a cool, Autumn day when Maryland had a genuine colorful, fall. It’s taken me four years to turn my photos into paintings, but better late than never right? In these works, I sought to capture the quiet beauty and colorful foliage of the park. As always, my work

Acrylic painting, Catoctin State Park, Autumn, landscapes
These are two completed acrylic paintings on miniature canvases.

is defined by color and light and how each element interacts and affect each other. My style is loose and impressionistic, and I use my photos as a jumping off point for these landscapes. To purchase, Wolf Rock, acrylic on canvas, 3 x 2 inches, 2017, (right) visit https://www.etsy.com/listing/565427233/wolf-rock-catoctin-state-park?ref=listing_published_alert. To purchase, Along the Path, acrylic on canvas, 3 x 2 inches, 2017, (left), visit https://www.etsy.com/listing/551631770/along-the-path?ref=shop_home_active_1. To see what other items are for sale, visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt?ref=l2-shopheader-name.

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Art Show: Light and Color

Hello Friends, Family, and Followers,

I just got back from displaying my oil and acrylic paintings at the Frederick Coffee Company in Frederick, MD. My art will be on display from October1-October 31st as an artist of the month. On display are landscapes, still life, and portraits. All items are for sale and are framed. For more information about the cafe hours or address, visit http://www.fredcoffeeco.com.